Friday, September 08, 2006


When my daughter was a little girl, I took her with me to the nursing home where my grandmother lived. While we usually visited my grandmother in her room, on this particular day she wasn't there, so we went looking for her. As we walked around the halls of the nursing home, we encountered one old woman who, while seated in a wheelchair, pulled herself along with her foot. You read correctly--foot. She had apparently had one leg amputated at some point, so her remaining leg and foot was all she had to propel herself.

As she pulled herself along, she kept repeating in a most plaintive voice: "Help! I've lost myself." Repeating this plea over and over again. We hurried on by her, still looking for my grandmother. Just as we got out of her earshot, my 4 year old daughter whispered loudly to me--"Do you think she lost her leg, too?"

At the time, it was wonderfully funny. But some twenty years later, I think about those folks that I encountered when I went to visit my grandmother. And, I also do much thinking about my own aging.

I am of two minds: in one mind, I am quite proud of being in relatively good health and physical shape (for, as they say, a woman of my age); in the other mind, I resent every creak I feel. I also find myself noting the ages of people I know who have died (or even the ages of those listed in the local obituaries). Then, I instantly do the math--that person was 72; well, that's 11 more years than I; or that one was 50, ha! I've got that beat.

There is a story that
Ingrid Bergman was asked, on the occasion of her birthday, how she felt now that she had reached the advanced age of 60. She reportedly responded: "I like it just fine, considering the alternative." Perhaps the story is apocryphal, but I like it. It captures exactly my feelings. While I can wish that aging weren't accompanied by aches and pains, or by some of the alarming physical changes one experiences, I still like it just fine considering the alternative.


Anonymous said...

>>that's 11 more years than me<< You didn't live with your Grandfather in his earlier years, or he would have taught you "it's not >me< it's >I<."
Love, Father "C"

KGMom said...

Correction made!

Femail doc said...

You are not the only one who reads the obits in a comparison sort of way. As I get older, however, I identify more and more with these brief stories, wishing for those who did not make it even to my age that they had, feeling cheered for those who vaulted way beyond me in years.